Made in (India) Britain - Soho Theatre
Examining multifaceted identity and belonging
Rinkoo Barpaga is a man who exists across multiple identities. Born deaf to Punjab parents, he wields a fresh and overlooked perspective on life in a world not designed for him. Over an hour, he delivers a frank but delightfully tender and humorous account of his upbringing, transition to adulthood and his quest to feel like he belongs.
Accompanied on stage by his voice-over, Mathias André (serving up accents and narration beautifully), Barpaga signs out his story, the physical language forming an intrinsic part of his performance as he acts out the highs and lows of his life. From his early days of being ferried to school in a taxi accompanied by other deaf children, right through to his presenting career he has witnessed healthy doses of the best and sadly the worst this country has to offer - particularly racism, equally imbedded within the deaf community and wider society. Barpaga triumphantly owns his narrative, transforming his past struggles as a force for good in an inspiring performance that will resonate beyond the boundaries of identities.
Barpaga radiates authenticity, his rare insight worthy to be witnessed but I was left wanting more from the storytelling. Huge moments are glossed over and selfishly I wanted them to have the space and the impact they deserved - further editing may help address this imbalance and elevate the piece further. That being said, the highlight of the evening was seeing how the piece resonated with audience members of similar backgrounds, Barpaga’s performance reflecting much of their own experiences back at them - a testament to his tenacity and the power of live theatre.
There is huge potential in this production and I would love to see it harnessed future run. Rinkoo Barpaga’s story is so timely and important, shedding light on the best and worst of our society, all whilst finding the subtle joys in life as we all seek to find our home.
Running until 30th June - Tickets